City-Data Forum Swamp Coolers vs. Refrigerated Air (Albuquerque, Rio Rancho: HOA, motel, contractors)
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09-03-2011, 04:49 PM
 Location: Albuquerque 5,554 posts, read 8,820,555 times Reputation: 2427
You can estimate what a reduction the swamp cooler can achieve based on the ambient humidity:
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When it is 95 deg - a typical June high in Albuquerque: If the humidity is 10%
then the dewpoint is about 32 deg. This is typical for dry June weather.
-- You can cool down to a T(LA) ( Temperature of leaving air ) of 71 deg
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When it is 90 deg - a typical August high in Albuquerque: If the humidity is 20%
then the dewpoint is about 43 deg. This is typical for dry June weather.
-- You can cool down to a T(LA) ( Temperature of leaving air ) of 70 deg
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The calculation is as follows for the June example: 95 - (95-67)*0.85 = 71 deg
( 95 - ambient air // 67 - wet bulb temperature // 85 - efficiency of aspen pads )
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"Wet bulb" is about amb temp, minus one third of the difference between the
ambient and the dew point which is about 43 when amb=95 and rel hum is 10%.
Think of "wet bulb" as a variable used in the equation. Technically, it is
the lowest temperature that can be reached by evaporation of water.

Spray some water on your skin - it feels cold. You are feeling the "wet bulb" temperature.

I've seen charts on the internet that indicate lower cooling temperatures,
but I don't think they are taking into account the efficiency of the pads.

Note how the T(LA) in the August example is lower than June. This is due to the
lower input air. The air in the house will, of course be more humid and thus the
70 deg air in August might be less comfortable than the 71 deg air in June.

In any case, it shows that swamp coolers can cool much lower than the simple wet bulb
temperature if you provide pre-cooling to the input air. Unfortunately, this adds a lot to
the cost and is really only suitable for industrial applications.

You can dispense with the formulas alltogether by just using the following chart:
This chart shows June 95/10% and Aug 90/20% as both being 70 deg T(LA).
That's close enough for me.

Also note that unlike as has been stated earlier in this thread, it is not the "thinner layer of water" that
matters, but the total surface area that the air has a chance to come in contact with. A more-efficient
Master Cool doesn't use aspen pads on three sides, but uses a sort-of "honeycomb" pad that allows the
air to come in contact with water over a greater distance of travel. Rather than passing through a
1" or so pad, it moves through 8" or so of falling water - coming in contact with much more surface area.

Last edited by mortimer; 09-03-2011 at 05:09 PM..

09-03-2011, 06:55 PM
 Status: "Sky watchin" (set 16 days ago) Location: Under Mount Doom 8,864 posts, read 5,296,492 times Reputation: 4432
Not as analytical as ol' mortimer, but I do love an experiment.

It was 95 degrees this afternoon in my town, and I decided I was hankering to go jogging, but I did not want to drive up into the hills and be late for dinner, or head over to the gym. So, I figured I would put these principles to the test.

I went jogging about 3 miles at 5 pm. Before leaving the house, I dowsed my head and shoulders with water (wearing a shirt). At about mile 0.75 I saw a handy drinking fountain and dowsed head again. Smooth sailing! No sweat even. At about mile 1.5 I came to another drinking fountain. Dry! Arrgh. The heat started to build and sweat began to poor. At about mile 2 saw some sprinklers on in a nearby soccer field (a terrible timing for watering but great for me!), ran through them with a notable cool down. At mile 2.25 did another good dowsing at the first drinking fountain. This time it washed sweat in the eyes. Ouch! But I made it home easily after that. Though I think I terrorized some women walking their dogs in my street. Sadly, I am just not wet t-shirt material! More of a "this is you body on pale ale" poster child. All in all, it worked, I went a bit slower than usual, but managed just fine with some "swamp cooling." May do it again just for fun.

I do have a couple buddies who did something similar in Death Valley. They put on white shirts and dowsed themselves with water and were doing wind sprints through the desert on a 120 degree day, much to the alarm of the other tourists!

09-03-2011, 07:24 PM
 Location: Albuquerque 5,554 posts, read 8,820,555 times Reputation: 2427
I call dousing the shirt a "portable swamp cooler."

When I ride the hour or so up the hill, I carry a jar with water
in it. A couple of times, I take the shirt off and dip the top half
in the water and put it back on -- instant cool ... wonderful.

( I always start the trip with a soaking wet shirt. )

04-10-2012, 04:42 PM
 2 posts, read 3,631 times Reputation: 15
Love my swamp cooler for most of the year, have a cheap window unit for the bedroom for those few August nights when the humidity gets too high.

04-10-2012, 05:18 PM
 Location: Gilbert, AZ 1,836 posts, read 2,297,155 times Reputation: 689
I now live in the Phoenix area, and based on my experience, swamp coolers are much rarer here in the Phoenix area than they are in the Albuquerque, Tucson, or El Paso areas.

More often than not, those who use swamp coolers here in the Phoenix area also have refrigerated air systems. During the spring and fall, they use the swamp cooler as an energy-efficient alternative to the refrigerated air. When the summer heat comes, they switch to their refrigerated air.

04-10-2012, 06:35 PM
 Status: "Count your Blessings" (set 28 days ago) Location: Capitan, NM 7,064 posts, read 11,305,409 times Reputation: 3323
I'll take refrigerated air over swamp coolers any day.
My MIL lives in Belen with a swamp cooler and when it gets too humid, it doesn't work.

04-17-2012, 02:03 PM
 Location: Albuquerque 5,554 posts, read 8,820,555 times Reputation: 2427
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Andros 1337 I now live in the Phoenix area, and based on my experience, swamp coolers are much rarer here in the Phoenix area than they are in the Albuquerque, Tucson, or El Paso areas.
During May and some of Jun, you could use one. You could use one in September - after the monsoons.

Late Jun, July & Aug, and maybe early Sep there is no way it would be OK.

It really depends on the humidity.

In May-Jun - before the monsoon, you often get 110 degrees, but the humidity is so low,
the swamp cooler would be effective and save you that \$100-150 in electricity in a month.

04-22-2012, 03:37 PM
 1 posts, read 815 times Reputation: 10
I have AC in the 1700 SF house and installed a 28 x 28 x 32 swamp cooler more or less as a backup in case the AC went out in the 115 degree Phoenix summer. The swamp cooler is GREAT! I now use it for 5 of the 8 cooling months here and it not only cools the house very adequately on LOW I have it vented so it also cools my entire garage and workshop too. Good-Bye \$250 electric bills! I like it Better! it provides nice cool moist air to the entire house..... Rand E.

01-14-2013, 10:52 AM
 7 posts, read 9,152 times Reputation: 14
Like My Swamp Cooler

Five years ago we bought a BonAire Durango and it paid for itself the very first year! Summer electric rates run about 35 cents per kilowatt hour for on peak usage...outrageous! The only time we cannot use the cooler is during monsoon.

Yes, you must know how to use one. We keep ours on low speed most of the time but we do run it 24 hours a day.

As for moisture, we cannot get enough. We live just outside PHX and we cannot keep moisture inside...just the opposite of other places.

07-09-2013, 10:21 PM
 10 posts, read 6,410 times Reputation: 30
It's way too hot for my comfort

This is my 5th summer living in Rio Rancho, New Mexico (which is 15 miles northwest of Albuquerque), so my 5th year of using a swamp cooler instead of refridgerated air (which is what I've had all my life).

Summer 2009: Swamp cooler seemed to to the job, but I didn't have anything to compare it to.

Summer 2010: Swamp cooler did the job, but we had very little rain.

Summer 2011: Swamp cooler did the job, but we had very little rain.

Summer 2012: Swamp cooler did the job, but we had very little rain.

Summer 2013: Swamp cooler did the job, until it started raining almost every day. OMG, it is hot as hell in my house. I can't get the temperature below 75-78 degrees despite the fact the thermostat is set at 70 degrees, all the ceiling fans are running and all the room darkening insulated double honeycomb shades are closed 24/7. I suppose having 13 skylights isn't helping the matter.

I am a very crabby camper right now. I have the handyman coming to look at it tomorrow morning, but I have this awful feeling there's nothing wrong with it (since I bought a new one last year) and the only way I can get it cooler is to convert to refridgerated air. I really wish I had known this would happen before I spent the money for a new swamp cooler ... money I could have used for the conversion. Would it help if I had the ductwork cleaned, or is this a hopeless cause?

Sigh. I'm hot and not happy. Is there any way to make it cooler during monsoon season? I'm ready to call somebody to do the refridgerated air conversion, but that's going to cost several thousand dollars, maybe up to \$5,000? My heat is baseboard hot water, so I have a boiler instead of a furnace.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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